Proposed legislative changes to the labour law were introduced by the provincial government earlier this week that potentially could impact your business – Bill 8 – The Employment Standards Amendment Act and Bill 30 – the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act. Proposed changes to the Labour Code do NOT include the removal of the secret ballot vote during the process of certification.
Minister Bains made clear that this would have been included if the NDP had a majority. CME had meetings with the Leader of the BC Green Party along with BC Liberal Opposition critics for Labour and Jobs, Trade and Technology to discuss the issue. It is clear that both political parties held firm to their commitments to oppose removal of the secret ballot vote. This was particularly important for the governing party’s closest ally, the BC Greens.
Overall, the amendments to the Acts will tilt the legislation in favour of unions and labour. In addition, the proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act regarding leave provisions and an increased wage recovery period depart significantly from the majority of recommendations made in the BC Law Institute Report.
If any issues arise that we believe requires significant action from CME and from you as our members, we will engage. For your benefit, CME has summarized some of the key points in the legislation for your reference.
Employment Standards Amendment Act
- Significant increase in job-protected, unpaid leave for workers in difficult personal situations like fleeing domestic violence, or caring for critically ill family members.
- An expansion of the period for when employees can reclaim unpaid wages from 6 months up to 24 months in certain circumstances
- A requirement for collective agreements to meet or exceed Employment Standards Act requirements.
- Changes to the Employment Standards Branch encouraging them to be more proactive in pursuing alleged infractions yet removing the right to an oral hearing.
- The age where children are allowed to work has been raised from 12 to 16, with some exemptions for 14 and 15 year olds
POTENTIAL IMPACTS ON MANUFACTURERS
- This will add an administrative burden for smaller manufacturers that will need to find temporary help to fill roles both in short and long term scenarios.
- Employers that are found in contravention face much greater liability.
- For manufacturers in a union environment this could impact on overtime, averaging of hours, etc.
- The screening of spurious complaints will be far less rigorous and the opportunity for employers to state their case will be more limited.
- Minimal impact on manufacturing.
BC Labour Code
- The communication period between a certification filing and a secret ballot vote has been shortened from 10 to 5 days
- The Board’s ability to impose automatic certification if an employer is found to have been interfering in the process has been increased.
- A fivefold increase to potential fines for employers.
- The Code will be reviewed every five years.
POTENTIAL IMPACT ON MANUFACTURERS
- An employer will now only have 5 days in total (not 5 working days) to prepare and respond to a certification vote. Although this does not legally limit their right to speak to the employees, in practice it severely limits their opportunity to exercise that right.
- Similarly adds to the risk of an employer who does not fully understand and adhere to the limitations placed upon them by the legislation.
- Limited direct impact on industry but the potential for constantly changing landscape reduces certainty.